2020 has been such a whirlwind that I have hardly had a minute to catch up with what’s going on myself, let alone post any updates on here. But one of the exciting things that has happened – or rather, that is going to happen in 2021 – is that I will be working on a new project on music education. I’ve been in discussion with the wonderful Jenn Raven at music education charity Sound Connections for some years, after she spoke (brilliantly) at one of the events I organised on music education and abuse at The Purcell School in 2017. After one unsuccessful funding bid, I am delighted that our second bid was successful. We are being funded by new music education charity Agrigento to run a project called ‘The Music Lab‘. This is a small-scale action research project that will be working with young classical musicians at Lewisham Music Hub (who run a Saturday music school in south London) to explore what youth voice might mean in classical music instrumental tuition. We have been having some initial discussions with Lewisham Music Hub who I am really excited to be working with as we share the same goals and ideals about what needs to change in classical music education. We have appointed a music facilitator – the dynamic and hugely experienced Isabella Mayne – and a youth worker – the equally brilliant Jacob Sakil – to work with us on this project. I was especially keen to have a youth worker on board as I know that classical music education could learn a lot from youth work practices, and I hope this project will be part of this learning.
We were hoping to start the project in January but the pandemic has scuppered our plans, so we are now planning to start in April. We aim to produce a toolkit that will be disseminated to music education Hubs across the UK as we know there is a lot of interest currently in how to adapt music education pedagogies to reflect youth voice principles. I can’t wait to get started but like so many other projects, we are now dependent on what happens with the pandemic as we really want to do this project face-to-face rather than remotely. I will post any updates as we receive them.
With Tiffany Page and Georgina Calvert-Lee, I have published a short article in journal Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education outlining the key points of our Sector Guidance on sexual misconduct complaints processes in higher education.
I’m sorry about the paywall – it should be available on my university publications site in a pre-publication version soon, but if you’d like to read it and don’t have access please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
I’m delighted that the first academic reviews of my book are now out. One is in the European Journal of Cultural Studies. It’s written by Professor Mark Banks, now at Glasgow University, and you can read the full text here.
The second is here, in cultural policy journal Cultural Trends, by Andrew Pinnock from Southampton University.
In addition, I did an interview for academic content site Faculti about the book, which you can listen to here.
I am delighted to have been jointly awarded the Philip Abrams Memorial prize by the British Sociological Association for my book Class, Control, and Classical Music. This prize is for the best first sole-authored book within the discipline of sociology and needless to say it’s a huge honour to be joint winner. This is in fact the first prize I’ve ever won for doing sociology, which makes it particularly special, and the recognition helps to make the many years of work that went into this book feel even more worthwhile.
You can listen to a short interview with one of the prize judges, Richard Waller, with me about the book here. The prize was also awarded to Owen Abbott for his book The Self, Relational Sociology and Morality in Practice, which looks great and I can’t wait to read it. There were some fantastic books nominated and all 20 of them look worth reading. One that I’ve already read is Ali Meghji’s Black Middle Class Britannia, which I would highly recommend – a hugely important book looking at high cultural consumption among Black middle-class people in London, which is essential reading for understanding intersections of race and class in the UK.
I recorded a podcast interview with Dr Dave O’Brien for the New Books Network about my book. You can have a listen here – it’s about 45 minutes long and gives an overview of some of the key ideas in the book (and there’s loads of other great podcasts with academic authors on the New Books Network, so it’s worth checking out!)
Last Wednesday, we launched our new guidance on how HE institutions should manage staff-student sexual misconduct complaints. The guidance is written in partnership with law firm McAllister Olivarius, who supported the launch, and we had a wonderful event drawing together the cross-section of people who are interested in complaints processes and who are also feminists (a surprisingly large group). You can read the guidance, and the first two in our series of briefing notes addressing key issues raised in our work, here.
We also wrote about the key ideas in the guidance for WonkHE, as well as a comment piece for The Guardian. We’ll be doing a webinar within the coming weeks about this for Culture Shift, and will also hope to address questions arising from it in future writing. The guidance has been called ‘radical’ by a commentator on the WonkHE podcast, which we take as a compliment. Indeed, if we are radical, so is the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which published technical guidance for employers on addressing sexual harassment in January 2020, and they are on the same page as us on many points.
I’ve also blogged for The 1752 Group about the Office for Students consultation; the UCL relationships policy ban; and HE institutions’ ‘duty of care’ to students, which you can read about here.
The formal launch of my book was held on 22 November at City, University of London, very generously hosted by the Gender and Sexualities Research Centre and the Music Department – huge thanks to Ros Gill, Jo Littler, and Laudan Nooshin for making it happen. The event page is here.
I recorded the audio of all the talks (except the final one from Francesca Christmas from Trinity College London) and you can listen to the audio here (c.50 mins).
I was delighted to have as speakers Professor Geoff Baker (Royal Holloway, University of London), Christina Scharff (King’s College London), Anamik Saha (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Francesca Christmas (Trinity College London). I’ve also spoke for about ten minutes at the start about the genesis of the book and the key arguments.
There will be video available of the whole talk including a fantastic discussion with some really interesting comments and questions from industry and academic audience members in due course.
I was delighted to be invited to the Music Department at Southampton University on 13 November 2019 to talk about my book. You can watch the talk below, as well as questions and discussion afterwards. The audio of the talk is available here (the audio is not that great on the video, however I’ve upgraded the quality for the audio so that should be ok).
I talked predominantly about how class inequalities in wider society affect young people playing classical music, and also about how the practices of classical music can sometimes entrench these inequalities. There’s a lot more in the book that I didn’t manage to fit into this talk – in particular about classical music and whiteness, as well as about gender, but this gives you a taster of some of the material (predominantly from chapter 4 of the book).
I was delighted to co-host a book launch with my colleague George Burrows from the School of Art, Design, and Performance at the University of Portsmouth. By chance we had both published books within a couple of months of each other with Oxford University Press music. So we decided to hold a joint book launch in Portsmouth. Rather than talking about our own books, we each introduced the other’s book – a rather nerve-wracking but overall very enjoyable way to do it. Continue reading “Anna Bull and George Burrows book launch”
I recently posted a brief introduction to my new book, Class, control, and classical music. The book draws on research with young people aged 16-21 in youth classical music ensembles in the south of England. In this post, I want to look at another aspect of my argument: how musical standards of ability contribute to retaining classical music in the UK as a middle-class space.
Previous research on middle-class identities in the UK has argued that the middle classes, while far from being a homogeneous group, tend to share ‘a strong commitment to education as key to middle-class cultural reproduction’ (Reay, Crozier, and James 2011, 19), and ‘an ability to erect boundaries, both geographically and symbolically’ (12). It is through these means, and others such as setting up institutions to pass on value through generations, that the middle classes preserve their status over time. One example of how the middle classes erect boundaries is suburbanisation – setting up/colonising areas where they can be with other people like them. Another is private schooling. Studying the middle classes is therefore the study of struggles over boundaries, of inclusions and exclusions to protected spaces, and of the formation of collective identities within these spaces.
So, in what ways (if at all) does musical ‘standard’ work as a middle-class practice of boundary-drawing, and storing value in a protected space? Continue reading “Musical standards and middle-class affinities”